Travel guide to Rio de Janeiro

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How does it sound to you to wake up in the post summer heat with a cup of Brazilian coffee in the morning and a basket of colourful tropical fruits to choose from as breakfast in front of the 4km long world famous sandy coastline?

I think this is outrageously tempting.

So I didn’t actually fancy too much about Rio de Janeiro, or Brazil in general, before I went there. All I knew about Rio is the Christ, the beach, favela, and football, particularly true in the year of World Cup.rio 16

On my list there were favela tour, Maracanã Stadium, Copacabana, the Christ and that’s it. Thought I was going to make the best use of the three days time to finish my list. And it took two seconds to be teased out.

I said it was a post summer heat, which means a winter time. Lucky or not, winter time in this part of Brazil is just ‘summer with rain’, unlike the possible snow weather down south. ‘Summer with rain’ also stands for foggy, gloomy, grey, windy and humid. It doesn’t sound very good isn’t it?rio 13 rio 14

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Well, we did do the Christ the Redeemer, thanks to our student identities, we could get the tram plus entrance package half priced. And it should also only worth the half price. In terms of the statue itself, yes it is amazing, giant, peaceful, instagram-friendly and iconic. In terms of the attraction though, it’s way too crowded, too narrow to take proper photos, too dull to spend a lot of time and too foggy to have a panoramic view over Rio de Janeiro.

We left when we ran out of photo ideas. Where next? No idea. We were thinking to do Sugarloaf as well before the weather turned foggy.rio 12

Just rewind a bit, I randomly asked the girl in front of me on the bus to the Christ for the phrase ‘can you tell me when to get off?’ for our own sake given that we were going to take buses in these three days. I copied that and was excited to try out the next bus ride.rio 15

That was the ride after the Christ. We obviously forgot to ask the reception guy which bus to take back to the centre. Never mind, we asked a middle-aged man who seems to be knowledgeable about buses. Got on and this happened.

I repeated the phrase to the lady on the bus. She nodded. Perfect! I must be a language genius.

As the bus kept going, it got more strange cus nowhere around seemed the place we intended going. So we asked another passenger. THIS IS NOT THE RIGHT BUS.

What the ____?! Didn’t the lady nod? Or she nods anyway? Or she wants to play with us?

We exchanged a awkward smile and got off at the first stop after the mistake was revealed. It’s not always been bad experience though. Kanya did meet an amazing local girl on her way to the hostel the first night, and we did have the help from a local one time for the direction  at night.

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The highlight of the trip must be the slacklining bit on the Ipanema beach and the favela walk. I have already talked about the slacklining experience in another post, so make sure you head over to see how good I was. As for the favela bit, we were lucky to have a friend of my friend?! to be our guide to the favela.

Normally, if you want to get to Rocinha, you can either go by yourself or with a tour, which costs you around 70 reais in general. But the rumour is, you are not advised to go there on your own for safety reason. That’s why those tours are so flooded.rio 11

In fact, you won’t see drug dealers nor gangster hanging around in the lower part of the favela. According to our new friend who happened to be a volunteer in the favela, the lower part of it is actually quite well-off because of the tourism and other stuff. You are advised, and actually you can only, stay in the lower part cus not even the police can get to the top half of the favela to save you or settle any disturbance.

As one of the rising economic powers, Rio de Janeiro takes its lead to draw attention from the world for its Samba Carnival, indulging nightlife and heart-melting beaches, just one tunnel difference though, the favela tells you more of the authentic Rio de Janeiro behind all the glam and fancy images it is marketed.

One more thing to note, there is a new subway system running IN Rio de Janeiro, but not THROUGH Rio de Janeiro for it only connects places along the beach, I mean the central part of the business and leisure area. If you are going to a out-of-the-way place, bus and taxi are still your major transports.


Little tips from me

  • ALWAYS, ALWAYS keep your belongings in sight
  • Never, Never show too much of your valuables, such as holding your phone in the street
  • Stay out of the less popular street, especially at night
  • If you are thinking to do paragliding in Rio de Janeiro (which costs around 100 euro incl video), go check out Kanya’s facebook page here
  • We stayed in the Botafogo district, which turns out to be a well-off neighbourhood, but you can still consider the hostel we stayed in, Limetime Hostel